.. instead either ignore it o constructively use the situation to teach the child to move in ways which aren’t as bothersome to others. Parents can learn how to effectively use positive reinforcement by attending to their child’s positive behavior while ignoring, as much as possible the negative behavior. Without consistent structure and clearly defined expectations and limits, children with ADD can become quite confused about the behaviors that are expected of them. As a normal child shifts from pre-school to elementary school, the major psychosocial tasks of childhood have been dealt with and the child is able to focus his energy on learning in school along with the refinement of interpersonal relationships.
A er entering the educational system, the child with attentional deficits will often begin to struggle. The child may lag behind his peers, academically and socially. Often, ADD children have “social deficits” in that they have difficulty accurately int preting and processing social information and cues. This “social deficit disorder” as Wright calls it, along with impulsivity, may lead to the development of socially unacceptable behaviors. Making and keeping friends is a difficult task for children th ADD.
A variety of behavioral excesses and deficits common to these children get in the way of friendships. They may talk too much, dominate activities, intrude in others’ games, or quit a game before it is done. They may be unable to pay attention o what another child is saying, not respond when someone else tries to initiate and activity, or exhibit inappropriate behavior. Parents of a child with ADD need to be concerned about their child’s peer relations. Problems in this area can lead to lon iness, low self-esteem, depressed mood, and increased risk for anti-social behavior. Parents can help provide opportunities for their child to have positive interactions with peers.
There are a number of concrete steps that parents can take: Setting up a home reward program that focuses on one or two important social behaviors. Observing the child in peer interactions to discover good behaviors and poor, or absent, behaviors. Directly coaching, modeling and role-playing important behaviors. “Catching the child” at good behavior so as to provide praise and rewards. Other strategies include structuring initial activities for the child and a friend that are not highly interactive, such as trips to the library or playground; using short breaks from peer interactions when the arousal level becomes high; and working t reduce aggressive behavior in the home.
ADD children (and adults) are usually more oriented to visual and kinesthetic learning and right brain thinking. Unfortunately, there is a structural dilemma in the educational system because educators tend to be auditory learners that are left brain riented with a systematic way of thinking. However, there are exercises and tools that can be used by parents to help their child in the area of academics. One idea is to make a written agreement with your child in which the child agrees to do his o her homework every night or agrees to work their hardest at a higher grade in a specific subject in return for a privilege or reward he/she selects. Therapists suggest that parents not be afraid of using monetary rewards as encouragement as it really esn’t matter what is used as long as it produces the desired behavior or results in the child. Another plus side to this method is that by succeeding in anything, the ADD child is slowly able to develop the confidence and skills to tackle other more di icult situations. Paradoxically, many children with ADD are also exquisitely sensitive to feedback from others.
As the child becomes aware of his differences from others, is shunned or teased by peers, is criticized by teachers for being unable to rem n in control, the child begins to develop a negative self image, low self-esteem, depression and anger. What significant others (parents, teachers) tell the child about himself has a powerful impact on his developing self-concept. The child begins to ew himself as he is viewed by others. Told repeatedly that he “could do better if he would only try”, he begins to feel that he is worthless. sadly these negative feelings about the self persist through life if parents don’t take care to protect their hild’s self-view. Children with ADD often need their parents to identify their areas of strength. School work is mostly left-brain sequential learning.
Sports, dance, music, video, computer games, magic shows and other creative right brain activities re usually areas of strength that can be emphasized outside of school to create success. In order for parents able to help their attention challenged children conquer many of the hurdles that go along with Attention Deficit Disorder, they will have to deal with the child with patience and understanding above all else. Complicating the fam y situation is the fact that ADD is often genetically transmitted from one generation to the next. Thus, we often find an ADD child being raised by an ADD parent who was never diagnosed and who had a very limited understanding of why the child is havin problems (which may, incidentally, mirror problems that the parent himself experienced as a child. Medication helps to relieve many symptoms of distractibility and hyperactivity in about 75% of children.
Most children are treated with psychostimulant edications (Ritalin, Cylert, Dexedrine). Others respond to a carefully titrated blend of antidepressant medication and/or psychostimulants. And still others usually in cases where parents are against the use of drug therapy there are other sometimes fa costlier treatments such as EEG Biofeedback or therapy or counseling. Two primary federal laws apply to the education of children with ADD. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Acco ing to federal law, a school is responsible for providing an educational diagnosis of a child if the school district and parent believes that a child has a disability.
Many new advancements educationally have been made recently in which children can r eive a quality education that takes into account their special needs. Any treatment is far better than none at all and the knowledge that one’s child has ADD/HD allows parents to be prepared for the difficult areas of their child’s developmental gro h and within all other areas of their life including academics, peer and social relationships, self-esteem, and family relationships. REFERENCES 1. American Psychiatric Association (pub.) (1994) Quick Reference To The Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-IV. 2.
Pamela Darr Wright, LCSW CompuServe 75116,364 “Attention Deficit Disorder in Children: Developmental, Parenting and Treatment Issues” Copyright 1993 (Retrieved from the World Wide Web, November 1998) 3. Janet Z. Giler, PhD., “What is Attention Deficit Disorder and How Is It Diagnosed?” (Retrieved from the CompuServe ADD/HD Forum on the World Wide Web 11-98 http://home.earthlink.net/~jzgiler/howdoi.htm) 4. “Think Fast! The ADD Experience” Underwood Books (pub) Grass Valley, CA. (1996) 5. C.H.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders) http://www.chadd.org 6.
CompuServe’s Attention Deficit Disorder Forum (Various sources retrieved from the World Wide Web Nov. 1998).